Lists

The Ten Best Places to Swim in Metro Denver

This sort of horseplay is not welcome at Denver public pools.
This sort of horseplay is not welcome at Denver public pools. Kenneth Hamblin III
Denver, it is hot. So hot, in fact, that there's really nothing to do but find a body of cold water and take a plunge. Luckily, municipal and neighborhood pools abound in the Mile High, and sometimes a lap pool is really all you need. Here we've rounded up the pools, water parks, rivers and lakes worth seeking out. These swimming holes offer thrills, nature, art or something else that you won't find elsewhere. Without further ado, here are metro Denver's ten best spots to take the plunge:

click to enlarge Tubing on Boulder Creek allows for communing with nature while cooling down. - WHITEWATER TUBING & RECREATION
Tubing on Boulder Creek allows for communing with nature while cooling down.
Whitewater Tubing & Recreation
Tubing on Boulder Creek
Boulder

If you prefer communing with nature while splashing around, head up to Boulder Creek, where you can float down the current from Eben G. Fine Park to 55th Street on the east side of Boulder. (Don't go higher than the park, experts warn, or you'll hit rocky sections and serious rapids.) Bring your own tube, or rent from a local outfitter like Whitewater Tubing & Recreation on Spruce Street, which also offers shuttle service. Outfit kids with lifejackets and helmets, and only ride the rapids with them when the flow is low. Special bonus: Today is Tube to Work Day in Boulder!

click to enlarge Brighton Oasis boasts slides, a lazy river, a climbing wall and a splash pool. - BRIGHTON OASIS VIA FACEBOOK
Brighton Oasis boasts slides, a lazy river, a climbing wall and a splash pool.
Brighton Oasis via Facebook
Brighton Oasis Family Aquatic Park
1852 East Bromley Lane, Brighton
303-655-2095

Brighton Oasis offers a chance to take advantage of some water park fun at a fraction of the price. Non-Brighton residents pay just $7 for admission and residents get in for a paltry $4.75. Scale the climbing wall and plunge right back into the pool, tackle the pair of twisting slides, soak yourself under a giant dump bucket and then float your way around the many bends of the lazy river. The Oasis added a drop slide for this season; as ever, you can snack from the concessions stand and reserve pavilions for parties. Only catch? No booze.

click to enlarge Chatfield Reservoir offers a bevy of water sports, including boating, jet-skiing and good old-fashioned swimming. - COLORADO PARKS AND WILDLIFE
Chatfield Reservoir offers a bevy of water sports, including boating, jet-skiing and good old-fashioned swimming.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife
Chatfield Reservoir at Chatfield State Park
11500 Roxborough Park Road, Littleton
303-791-7275

If you're yearning to break free of swimming pools and head to a beach, Chatfield Lake is right up your alley. This reservoir has a sandy swimming beach open all summer long, plus allows several water sports, including boating, jet-skiing and paddleboarding. Bring a net for the volleyball courts and a picnic. You'll also find several campsites in the park, all within walking distance to the lake. There's also a restaurant in the park, located on the marina.


click to enlarge The Eldorado swimming pool has hosted swimmers since 1905. - WESTWORD
The Eldorado swimming pool has hosted swimmers since 1905.
Westword
Eldorado Swimming Pool
294 Artesian Drive
303-499-9640

This stunner of a swimming pool — nestled into Eldorado Canyon and fed by the same spring that supplies Eldorado with bottled water — has provided a swimming sanctuary since 1905. You're coming here especially for the views; the canyon walls jut up sharply outside of the Western-themed resort. But kids will like the diving board and the old metal slide. Note that this pool is colder than most: Water comes in from the spring at 76 degrees Fahrenheit, and is heated to 80.

Read on for more of the best places to swim in Colorado.

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Laura Shunk was Westword's restaurant critic from 2010 to 2012; she's also been food editor at the Village Voice and a dining columnist in Beijing. Her toughest assignment had her drinking ten martinis and eating ten Caesar salads over the course of 48 hours. She still drinks martinis, but remains lukewarm on Caesar salads.
Contact: Laura Shunk